ERIC Number: ED312657
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Patterns of Discourse in Classroom Discussions of Literature.
Marshall, James D.
A study explored the general patterns of discourse during discussions of literature in secondary classrooms, and investigated teachers' and students' perceptions of the purposes that guide those discussions. Six teacher-researchers each studied one teacher as that teacher taught an instructional unit on a literary text, videotaping class sessions, and interviewing the teacher and several students per class. Interviews were analyzed, and videotaped discussions were coded to distinguish three levels of organization (classroom episode, speaker turn, and communication unit) and to analyze each communication unit for linguistic function, knowledge base, and kind of reasoning. Results indicated that teachers typically saw discussions as serving at least two major purposes--lively interaction, and deep analysis of text--and they saw themselves playing at least two roles which reflected those purposes--facilitators and guides. Analyses of classroom talk suggested that: (1) in terms of quantity, teachers dominated most of the large-group discussions observed, with the floor returned to the teacher after each student's contribution, and with teachers' turns two to five times longer than students' turns; (2) teachers mostly used their turns to inform, question, and respond to students' contributions; (3) students' informative remarks were largely reflective of the kinds of questions teachers asked, and dominated by the description and interpretation of textual information; and (4) teachers used their responses to students' contributions to weave the discussion into a coherent and sustained examination of general topics, controlling the direction, pace, and organization of discussion. (Sixteen tables of data are included, and 19 references are attached.) (SR)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC.; Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for the Learning and Teaching of Literature, Albany, NY.